Mark Horton/Getty ImagesThe Grammy-winning New Age group the Paul Winter Consort‘s 37th annual Winter Solstice Celebration gets underway tonight at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and the concert series will feature a guest appearance by Procol Harum frontman Gary Brooker. Not surprisingly, Brooker will perform select Procol Harum tunes at the shows, including the classic “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” but he also will help Winter’s group pay tribute to a mutual friend, collaborator and mentor, late Beatles producer George Martin.
“Martin…produced my first solo album way back when, called No More Fear of Flying,” Brooker tells ABC Radio, noting that he first met George in 1963 when his pre-Procol band The Paramounts were signed to The Beatles’ U.K. label, Parlophone. “He was the sort of man that you could always call him up and he’d take your call, and you could ask him for advice,” Gary adds. “Sadly missed now.”
Regarding how Brooker came to participate in this year’s Solstice Celebration, Winter explains, “Gary and I met 45 years ago at the Fillmore East when our bands were co-billed there…and we reconnected this May after the memorial service for Sir George Martin…and thought, ‘Maybe it’s time to do something together.’ And, so here we are.”
Winter tells ABC Radio that his group will be showcasing music from its 1972 album Icarus, which Martin produced, while “Gary will be singing…one of the songs that John Lennon wrote that George produced.”
Paul, a saxophone player whose main musical influences are classical and jazz, points out that because of the classical dimension of Procol Harum’s music, the group “became my favorite rock band.”
The Winter Solstice Celebration shows are scheduled for December 15 and 16 at 8 p.m., and December 17 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
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